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Avian Conservation – Thousands of Rare Birds Killed Annually in Europe

Egyptian VultureMany people concerned with the conservation of wild birds focus their efforts on the tropics.  The plight of tropical parrots has, with good reason, long monopolized the attentions of conservationists and concerned citizens alike, and birds of all kinds reach their greatest diversity south of the equator.  I suppose the fact that ornithologists often prefer to do their research in warm places doesn’t hurt either!  However, a recent report has revealed that shocking numbers of protected songbirds, storks, eagles, vultures and other birds are being trapped, shot, poisoned and otherwise killed in at least 38 European countries. Read More »

Keeping North American Birds – Natural History and Care of the Cedar Waxwing

Cedar WaxwingEven where it is common, the Cedar Waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum, always elicits excitement among birders.  Widely considered to be one of the USA’s most beautiful birds, captives tame readily and have achieved some popularity among European hobbyists.  Those I’ve kept have provided many fond memories and interesting observations.


This 6-inch-long bird has a unique look that can be described as “sleek, silky and shiny”.  It is clad in muted shades of brown, gray and lemon-yellow, and sports a jaunty crest, bold black eye mask and striking scarlet-red wing tips. Read More »

Blue and Gold Macaw Natural History – the Wild Side of a Popular Pet

Blue and Gold MacawThe huge, stunningly-colored Blue and Gold (or Blue and Yellow) Macaw, Ara ararauna, is one of the most recognizable of all birds…size, color, intelligence (and voice!) make it impossible to ignore.  While it has long been bred in captivity, the natural history of this spectacular parrot is less-well known.  Please read on to learn about its life in the wild and the threats to its continued existence.


The Blue and Gold has the largest natural range of any macaw.  It is found from Eastern Panama east across most of Northern South America and south through Bolivia to Paraguay and Eastern Brazil.  Despite this, it is declining or extinct in some areas…Trinidad’s macaws disappeared in the 1960’s, but a new population has been re-introduced. Read More »

The 2011 State of the Birds Report – Status of the USA’s Wild Birds

Kirtland's WarblerUS Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently released the 2011 State of the Birds Report.  For the first time, the report focused on the role that publicly owned lands (i.e. federal parks) play in the natural history and conservation of native birds.  The report was spurred by the US North American Bird Conservation Initiative, and represents the efforts of numerous groups, including the National Audubon Society, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Both “citizen scientists” (please see article below) and professional biologists played important role in data collection. Read More »

Keeping and Breeding the Cuban Finch or Cuban Melodious Grassquit

Cuban GrassquitFinch keepers with a bit of room and some experience would do well to consider the gorgeous and plucky Cuban Finch, Tiaris canora.  They can be challenging, but most agree that their gorgeous colors and vibrant spirits make efforts spent on their care worthwhile.

Although not commonly seen in pet stores in the USA, Cuban Finches are well established in private collections.  The related Yellow-Faced Grassquit or Olive Finch, T. olivacea, is sometimes available from the breeders specializing in Cuban Finches. Read More »

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